Oh, dear. Is my 6 year-old daughter over-sexed?

acerJuly 19, 2012

Quite frankly, my younger daughter scares me. Since about age 4 she's been interested in boys, romance, and kissing. Before I go any further, I want to say that there is NOT any kind of abuse or weird stuff going on. I know. (I'm the mother.) Her attitude changes in the presence of boys or younger men, and she practically struts around, swinging those hips and trying to talk with a sophisticated accent. Today two cable guys came by, and she ran for the jewelry and bright pink lipstick her aunt gave her, then asked if she's pretty. Cue the party girl attitude and body language. I reminded her for the hundredth time that it's more important to be smart and kind, and she added "and beautiful". I was a tomboy and I'm still a little bit of a granola, wearing little to no makeup and ordinary clothes. It hurts a little because she seems to try hard NOT to be like me. Her sister is great in school, sports, and just about anything she tries, but my younger one is plump and struggling in school. I blame a lot of this on Disney and shows like Hannah Montana, etc. We've limited that, but we can't keep the infuence completely out of her life (that kind of stuff is everywhere, isn't it?). I DO NOT allow Bratz dolls or anything else that's sexy and marketed to children. Maybe I've made it "forbidden fruit"? Any thoughts?

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"I blame a lot of this on Disney and shows like Hannah Montana"

Nope... that doesn't get you off the hook! YOU allow her to watch those shows, so you can't blame them!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Okay, LuAnn. Fair enough. But by saying that, do you agree that these kinds of shows may be part of the problem?
I'm just not sure what to think. I see young girls who watch this stuff and are allowed -even encouraged- to imitate those adolescents on tv, and they just don't care as much about boys/romance as my girl. Maybe it's just her thing: I loved kittens, my other daughter loved ducks, this one wants a boyfriend. ...
By the way, she has a good relationship with her father, and we are a pretty traditional American family.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:48AM
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I wouldn't know... I never watched them.
Neither did my kids.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 2:35PM
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how much older is her sister?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 3:45PM
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Her sister is three years older (ages 6 and 9).
They do most of the typical kid stuff: swimming, playing in the creek, soccer, and visits with grandparents. Like I said before, my own look is pretty down-to-earth, and I try to reinforce the importance of brains and kindness over appearance. Some relatives buy them Barbies and play makeup (maybe to compensate for what they see as a lack of femininity in me, ha ha), but nothing over the top. I try to encourage an interest in science, nature, and learning. I don't want them exposed to sexuality at this age, but I can't raise them in a box. Just look at the things marketed to young girls in your local WalMart, not to mention what they'll hear on the school playground.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 1:42PM
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kids arnt daft are u bisexual

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 5:26PM
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kids arnt daft are u bisexual

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 5:27PM
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That's not helpful. No, I am not bisexual or homosexual. Been married 14 years and have only ever been attracted to men, even these days when I could go the other way and no one would care. I just like being myself and I don't feel like painting and perming to change that. I prefer a more natural look. It's a lot easier.(The granola types are quite common in my area, and much more so than me. I look like the Avon lady compared to some.) My kids can do what they want when they're older, but I digress...
I simply don't like my daughter to seek out men (or anyone else) for a romantic relationship. Come on, she's SIX. Any (constructive) thoughts?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 2:11AM
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Well, I'm the mother of a 6 yo girl and I am sometimes surprised by the things she says and does that seem very adult-like. Mine has been talking about getting married for 2+ years now (roll eyes).

I think kids (especially at this age) tend to mirror other kids, and that can include a lot of older sibling behavior for 6 year olds (and not just your older DD, but perhaps behaviors taught to the 6 yo by her classmates who subsequently got it from their older siblings). Mine is an only and I see this pattern strongly-- like when she came home and announced, very matter of factly, that her friend doesn't associate with people of a certain color. Five year olds don't come up with that on their own, they get it from parents and older siblings. Of course, this was one of those situations where I asked her a few questions as to how she felt about it, and made sure she understood our values and that the other girl might be misguided (but she already had that figured out thankfully).

6 is also an age of narcissism, so I would not put too much bearing on her being caught up in her appearance and what other people think of her based on it. ALTHOUGH, I would definitely spend the next few years correcting her beliefs and continuing to communicate with her the values of "pretty is as pretty does" and that boys who are only interested in her for her appearance aren't much of anything themselves. It's a process, but that is the only way for your beliefs to make an impression is if she hears them consistently. It's especially important to keep on with it since we live in a society that is so caught up in outward appearance over inward virtue. Keep with your beliefs and give it time, and hopefully it will stick and she will outgrow this.

You say she has a good relationship with her dad, which is very important, since how he treats her should eventually be reflected in the boys she chooses to associate with. I'd examine that relationship to make sure that her dad is encouraging her on a psychological and social level, and that he isn't inadvertently encouraging her need to be accepted by appearance. It is something he might do without even realizing it- if he consistently compliments her on how nice she looks after she gets herself dressed, but then fails to compliment her on her kind treatment of others, it could cause her to unconsciously value appearance over other things. It's easy to do this sort of thing with your kids and not realize it too. But again, 6 is an age of being strongly self-absorbed, and with some firm guidelines, boundaries, and positive encouragement on your part, I would hope she would naturally grow out of this and into a more rounded individual.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 10:12AM
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The problem is, it's very very difficult to put the toothpaste back in the tube after it's been squeezed out.

Ideally, you should have been monitoring her TV watching all along and not LETTING her watch shows that promote age-inappropriate behaviors. Ideally, you should have let the friends and relatives know that inappropriate gifts would NOT be allowed, and if they did show up, you should have gently taken them from your child, telling her something along the lines of "We'll put this away until you're older and ready for it". Ideally, you should be monitoring who she's playing with, and what kinds of things they're doing (and restricting or supervising so the activities are always age-appropriate). Unless you lead the way, your child won't know how to deal with the conflicting messages she's obviously getting in her own home.

This isn't a situation that calls for any kind of punishment or harsh words. It's a time for you to sit down calmly with your daughter and explain (in terms a 6 year old can understand) why we don't act that way, why behavior like that can be dangerous, why that kind of behavior can limit her options as she gets older, and keep her from being the best person she can be. And it's a lesson that has to be creatively, positively reinforced every day. It's going to be a challenge for you, it's going to take a lot of your time and attention, and a whole lot of your brain power to do this in a way that helps and doesn't damage your daughter.

Somewhere along the line, and it truely doesn't sound as if it came from you, she's gotten the warped idea that her self-worth is tied to glitz and glamor. You're absolutely right to be concerned because that kind of thinking is likely to either get her into terrible personal trouble over the years or cost her the opportunity to get a good education and an amazing career. Hang in there, stick to your guns and be creative. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 9:52AM
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You sound like a great mum.

It is difficult to "manage" your daughter with so many negative influences around you. I guess you just have to be vigilant and perhaps constant talking with her about appropriate behavior might just be the key to it.

Avoidance is a good thing, in fact parents are constantly on the lookout for things and situations to avoid !

For me, I have staggered through that minefield and now have adult children.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 10:39PM
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